Feb 6, 2013

Madison, Wisconsin Citizens Start Petition: Police Killed Our Roommate; Review Force Now

Paul Heenan at right

Don't call the police, not ever

Former Madison, Wisconsin police chief David Couper has been thoughtfully posing questions about what the community should do about the killing of an unarmed man, Paul Heenan, by a Madison police officer.

A petition has been started by former roommates of Heenan's, as they grieve the loss of a loved one. Peace, examination and thoughtful action in Madison, Wisconsin:
---By Nathan and Amelia Royko Maurer

When our roommate and close friend Paulie [Heenan] was killed by Officer [Stephen] Heimsness, he was just trying to come home. Paulie had moved in only a few days before, and in the dark he mistook the nearly identical house two doors down for ours. Our neighbor recognized him and tried to make sure he made it home safely. His wife, unsure of what was going on, decided to call the police as a precaution. Paulie never made it home.

Officer Heimsness shot Paulie even though he was unarmed and, according to eyewitness accounts, backing away with his hands up.

We're devastated that Paulie is dead. Then we found out that Officer Heimsness has a dangerous pattern of taking violent force too far. We don't feel safe with Heimsness or other officers with records like his on the streets, so we started a petition demanding that the Madison Police Chief take Officer Heimsness off the streets and review the department's policy on use of force.

Click here to sign our petition.

Paulie was one of our best friends. When he decided to move back to Madison after 8 years in New York, we were thrilled. Paulie was your go-to guy for lending a helping hand or repairing broken stuff: your car, your computer, your heart. He played music with our daughter and read to her.

Officer Heimsness ran onto the scene without identifying himself as a police officer, with his gun already drawn. Despite years of training in non-lethal tactics, he shot Paulie three times in the chest. His backup officer, by contrast, had just arrived with her Taser -- not a gun -- drawn.

Heimsness' record of allegedly using excessive force stretches back to 2001. He's apparently even gone so far as to beat one man into a bloody pulp. We don't trust someone with this record of poor judgment to patrol the streets of Madison.

Police most effectively keep neighborhoods safe when they have the trust of those they protect. Thanks to Heimsness' reckless actions, that trust has been seriously eroded. Megan O'Malley, our neighbor who called the police that night, told one reporter, "I feel terrible I called the police. I wouldn't call them again."

Please join us in calling on the Madison Police Chief to do everything in their power to take Officer Stephen Heimsness off the streets and to review the Madison Police Department's use of force policy so no more people needlessly die at one of their officers' hands.

Thanks for your help,

Nathan and Amelia Royko Maurer

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